US Food Supply Chain Struggling Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The food supply chain in the United States is fighting an uphill battle.
The food supply chain in the United States is fighting an uphill battle.

April 15, 2020 — As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States, experts are acknowledging that the US food supply chain could take a big hit over the coming weeks and months. This is particularly due to many food workers of food production plants falling ill with COVID-19. There have been many illnesses as of late in meat processing plants and warehouses, which is directly affecting production and meeting the supply demand.

Analysts are warning that the meat industry could be particularly hard hit with disruptions to production. In a big move this week, Smithfield Foods announced it was closing one of it plants in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for an indefinite amount of time. The move was in response to 230 plant workers falling ill with COVID-19, which accounts for half of South Dakota’s total of active cases. This is going to have a significant impact on the meat industry and availability in stores, as the plant is one of the United States’ largest pork processing facilities.

In a statement released on their website, the company states, “The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”

This plant is merely one example of how the food supply chain is being directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are employees working in tight conditions and being potentially exposed to the virus, but the ripple effects of food workers falling ill is causing plants to close and hindering effective production. Experts warn that shoppers in the United States will begin to see the effects of these decisions on their grocery store shelves in the near future. While consumers are used to having a variety of options when they shop for meat and other food items, the reality is that options will be dwindling over the next few weeks as labor shortages increase and production rates drop due to COVID-19.